The cheapest and easiest way is to use 2 x 4's. I always upholster the legs before attaching them, so I can move and adjust them if needed. Upholstering them is easy. Simply cut some extra batting the length of your legs. Wrap it around and attach with staples. No need to go crazy with staples, just a few to hold it in place. The edges of the batting should meet in the middle, but I cut my piece a little narrow. If that happens to you, no worries, it will be covered with your seam.
Now, wrap the legs like you would a Christmas present but instead of tape, use staples to secure the fabric.
Make sure not to wrap the batting around the ends so they stay flatter and easier to stand up.
Now for the tufting. I have tufted several pieces of furniture before, and tried a few different techniques. For headboards and even most kinds of ottomans I found the cheaters way to tuft quickly. You've probably read a dozen blog posts on how to cut out your shape from a sheet of plywood and how to glue on your foam, so I'll skip that part.
Once you have your foam attached, cover it with batting and secure with staples on the backside. Flip the headboard over so it is foam side up. Drape your fabric over it, making sure to have several extra inches on all sides. Smooth out any wrinkles or creases. Mark your desired locations for the buttons.
Here's the cheaters part. Get some heavy duty wood screws and some small washers. I used 3/4 in plywood and 1 1/4 inch screws. My screws were almost 1/2 inch too long, so even though they look tiny, I would go with 3/4 inch screws next time.
Start in the middle of the headboard. Place a screw through a washer and line it up with one of your button marks.
Push the screw down with the drill all the way to the wood if you can. Slowly start to drill, making sure to not snag the fabric or foam with the screw. Once the screw starts to take in the wood you can speed up. Tighten the screw as far as it will go. The screw will create the tufting and the washer will keep the fabric from pulling over the screw.
Work from the middle out, being mindful of any pleats or creases you would like to see. Once you are all done it will look like this.
Next, flip the headboard over, pull the fabric taught and secure with staples. Cover as many buttons as needed in matching fabric. I prefer to use "shank-less" buttons when I use this method. Using a strong fabric glue, cover the screws with the buttons.
The last step is to attach the legs. Lay the headboard face-down, line up the upholstered legs with the outside edges. Drive 4, 2 1/2 inch wood screws through the legs and into the headboard. Now you have a beautiful, tufted headboard that wont fall and crush you in your sleep!
I wouldn't use this technique on a seat cushion or if your don't want your buttons tightly tufted, but like I said before, I've used it on ottomans and other headboards with great success. Happy tufting!
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